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how are you going to get where you want to go? #Garmin

When I was asked to review the Garmin sat nav as a Tesco Compare car insurance safety tester earlier this month, I jumped at the chance. Up until my trip to Australia we haven’t really used satnavs that much. We rely on online maps on our phones to find places that we need to go. But being overseas and unable to use roaming services made me realise just how hard it would be to find my way around without using a good old fashioned mapand being on my own it would have been a real challenge to try and read a map and drive at the same time. I booked the satnav when I was booking my hire car and didn’t think any more of it.

That was until I arrived and was in a place completely strange to me and had no idea how to get to any of the addresses that I had to get to in my short visit to the country. That was when I realised how much I was going to rely on the satnav. The SatNav I used in Australia is exactly the same model as I was offered for a review on my return to the UK so I already knew how useful it was going to be!:)

The Garmin SatNav comes with a little suction cup holder that fixes onto your windscreen or wherever you want to place it really easily. It has a battery powered pack and also you can plug it into your cigarette lighter.

It has a really easy interface. Like I said, I hadnt used a SatNav before and so when I was in the car on my first morning in Sydney with an appointment to get to I had a sudden panic when I realised I hadn’t asked the lady in the car hire place to show me how to use it! But it was really straightforward, you can navigate to the home screen and then it’s easy to either search for an address. I quickly realised in Aus that postcodes are not as accurate as they are here. They seem to be for an entire area rather than a street!

You are guided through the screens allowing you to put in more specific details of your route if you need to. Then it will calculate your route and give you an estimated time of arrival (which is really helpful if you are working out how long you need) and then actually how far it is. You can have a choice of whether or not you wish to be guided by the voice or just follow on the screen. You appear as a little car at the start point of your route and it is really pretty accurate at keeping you on route. I found that unlike phone apps we have used. The satnav was really effective at getting you off at the right junction. Driving in a city that I had never been to before I found this really helpful. It didn’t just say ‘take the next left’ it actually would mention that you would be turning left and give you a succession of warnings as you approached your turning then once you were actually upon the junction you got quite a stern ‘turn left!’ The display is really easy to follow. I especially appreciated the fact that it showed me which lane I was in when I was coming up to huge intersections that could easily see me zipping off down the wrong one. My route was always highlighted and it was easy to see if I was going wrong.

There was only actually one time I got lost in Sydney and that was probably because I had met up with my oldest friend from school and we were chattering and I was not paying attention to the satnav. Although we did have a really good detour across the Sydney Harbour Bridge so it wasn’t too bad! But the SatNav was quick to try and get us back on route so we were alerted pretty quickly that we had gone wrong. It re-calculates your route if you go wrong and will give you an alternative way or ask you to turn when you can.

In settings you can find lots of options to personalise your routes and the way you use the SatNav. I didn’t realise you could do this in Australia and I wish I had of as I could have set it to avoid tolls. The main motorway around the city is a toll and you don’t even realise you are being charged as it clocks your number plate and bills you. Whilst it wasn’t a lot it would have been good to avoid it! You can also set it to warn you when you are coming up upon speed cameras. Always useful;)

The SatNav stores all the routes you have plugged in so when you strike in a familiar address it will give you a dropdown menu of previous routes and you can select the one you want. You can also set your home destination. One of the items that I used quite a bit in Sydney was the point of interest option in the menu. This was really useful when I found myself in an area of Sydney and was about ready for some lunch and had no idea where to go to get some! Plugged in cafes to the SatNav and I got a huge option of locations around where I was.

I really couldn’t have done without the SatNav in Australia. It helped me get so much of what I needed to do, done in a short period of time. Its navigation panel is easy and straightforward to use and I never once got sent down a farm track or to a dead end!

Back at home the destinations are a little different that im plugging in but it is still as effective and also gives the kids a bit of a kick to see where we are on the road. I am totally converted to SatNavs and anytime we need to get somewhere that we might not be sure of the route I will definitely be using it!


I was sent the SatNav for review, all opinions are my own

Five minutes of fun in the park! #countrykids

Our weekends are getting more and more jam packed with stuff. Two of our girls have ‘activities’ on the weekend and they are rather incoveniently on the same day but one in the morning and one the afternoon. It doesn’t give us a lot of opportunity for spontaneity on a saturday! I also often work Friday night so it is always a bit of a challenge to try and catch up on my missed sleep.

Any time we can take to get everyone together and out for a bit of family time we try to take. Its often hindered by the weather though and recently the weather has been a bit undecided. We go from blazing sunshine to winds and rain all in the space of a few hours. It is hard to plan to do anything. So recently we grabbed the opportunity, when we had about 40 minutes in between commitments, the sun came out and so we darted out to the park. Its a local one that we have been to so many times but it us usually quite quiet which we like. The kids got on with some hide and seek games, they played with the dog, ran around and did back flips!

One of those occasions when having a big bunch of kids pays off because they all play together and reasonably well! Miracles do happen.

The OH and i got to sit and soak up a bit of sunshine for a few minutes before resuming the craziness of the day.

Doesn’t happen very often eh..

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

July 12, 2014 - 5:25 am

Mummytries - Great that you managed to squeeze in a little trip amongst everything else! Having a big family looks like lots of fun :-) #countrykids

July 12, 2014 - 7:01 am

Sarah MumofThree World - Beautiful photos. Can totally relate to the pressures of weekends and activities. If I’m honest, I don’t even enjoy weekends much because of them. But we have a blissful few weeks off from them, so I hope we can make the most of our weekends now.
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July 12, 2014 - 9:59 am

Vicki Psarias-Broadbent - Utterly stunning pictures, wow-what a gorgeous day #countrykids

July 12, 2014 - 11:25 am

Coombe Mill - Fiona - Such an idyllic scene of family fun in the sunshine (while it lasted). You just have to grab the opportunities when they present themselves. Here’s to a summer without school and clubs and more family fun together. Impressive back flips – how she did so many without getting very dizzy though! Thanks for linking up and sharing with Country Kids.

July 12, 2014 - 1:46 pm

Jaime Oliver - wow what a beautiful place, i think that officially has to be the greenest space i have ever seen!

July 12, 2014 - 8:39 pm

Adventure Togs - It is always lovely when they all get on. Lovely photos :)

July 12, 2014 - 9:26 pm

The Mummy Diary - Gorgeous colours and beautiful pictures. glad you got to spend some time together. #countrykids
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July 12, 2014 - 9:56 pm

Anne Stone - I’m glad you got the chance to enjoy a little sunshine. Love your photos! #countrykids

July 13, 2014 - 4:11 pm

Merlinda Little (@pixiedusk) - Good thing that tho its short you were able to enjoy the sun as a family! In our household its usually always just me and my son. So if husband is there we just grab every opportunity as well to be together what ever the weather is =) #countrykids
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July 14, 2014 - 9:19 pm

Sonia Constant - Gorgeous photos and the park looks brilliant fun for those kiddies of yours… :) x
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A budget birthday #countrykids

My birthday this year was a low key one. We didnt want to spend loads and we just didnt have the time with work and the kids after school commitments to do much. On the morning of my birthday it made me laugh when my son said to me ‘why is it that when you are a grown up you get loads less presents!’:)

It is hard trying to decide what to do and to find the time to do it. Having a rare weekend off we decided to head over to one of the beaches on the Wirral. It was fairly late on in the day, a day which had been really quite hot, so we thought there might be a lot of people still around but the beach was pretty much empty save for the occasional dog walker. Our idea was to find a chippy, get a couple of bags of chips and then head to the beach. We got some steaming hot chips not too far from the beach and then when we got there set up shop with all our bit and pieces.

It always amazes me how kids react to being on a beach. On the way to the beach they were all begging for us to open the chips in the car so they could have a sneaky one. But when we got to the beach, that was forgotten and all of them headed off to explore and play. Digging, making castles, running (running on a beach is SO good!) and messing around in the little pools the sea had left behind. It took us telling them that the chips would get cold for them to head back and sit down. Was always going to be hard keeping the sand out of the chips, especially as they didnt sit and eat, they grazed, hoping back for the odd chip and then off to play again. Spraying the fine sand over everything. I ate mine up fairly quick. Im not such a big fan of sandy food!

After tea, we had a game of French Cricket and rounders. The older kids really got into it and we had a few guest players in the form of our two youngest who were mostly far too busy making a huge shell collection. It was fun. A moment of enjoying family time without worrying about anything else. Pretty perfect to me.


We packed up and headed home trying to not think about all the sand that was seeping into the upholstery in the car! The kids had a shower then finished off with a bowl of cereal before it was nearly time for bed.

It may not have been the most elaborate birthday ever but i loved it. xx


June 30, 2014 - 8:34 am

Hannah - Beach trips are so simple, but yet so lovely aren’t they ? I go to the beach for my birthday most years, in December. Just love how being there brings peace and a teensy bit of wonder at creation ! Happy Birthday Sarah, hope this next year is an exciting one for you xx
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July 7, 2014 - 9:35 pm

Coombe Mill - Fiona - It sounds like a perfect birthday to me! Family, beach, fun, sunshine and food – what else do you need?! Thanks for linking up and sharing your special day with Country Kids.
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July 7, 2014 - 9:40 pm

Anya from Older Single Mum and The Healer - Sounds and looks perfect to me! Happy Birthday :)
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July 14, 2014 - 7:35 pm

Sonia Constant - Beautiful photos, as always. Looks like so much fun and always a winner with Fish ‘n Chips :)

Great outdoor, beach, fun.

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Will we have to go to school in Australia? #ouraussieadventure

I arrived in Sydney at about 5pm local time. I have no idea what time that would have been for me. early hours of the morning? I was met at the airport by a school-mum friend who had moved to Sydney with her family late in 2013. It was really lovely to see a familiar face and know that i didnt have to try and work out how to get to a hotel on my own.

I had booked car hire on the website when i booked my flights. I had really only done this as it flashed up as an option at check out and it really wasn’t that much. I think it was something like £30 for the 4 days that i was going to be there. I thought given that i wanted to do a lot of looking around then it would be easier to have a car but actually the public transport in Sydney is really good and i probably could have managed it without, just would have to have been a little bit more on the ball with giving myself plenty of time to get to places. When you have to catch a boat to get your destination things seem to take a bit longer!

My friend and her family live in the lovely leafy suburb of Southerlandshire. The locals apparently refer to it as ‘the shire’ which in my mind just has images of tractors and wellies. But it is far from that. It is a beautiful area surrounded by incredible national parks and not too far from some of Sydney’s legendary beaches.

It was dark when we finally got our car out of the garage and even though i told myself that the driving is the same as UK. In my mind I wanted it to be different! I have no idea why, the only thing i can put it down to is that the roads are a little similar to North America..they are large and felt similar in some way so i actually had to keep reminding myself to stay on the left and not try to drive on the right!

Driving the reasonably short distance to ‘the shire’ from the airport i recognised a few signs that surprised me…Woolworths..yes, not our woolworths a different one which is in fact a supermarket chain here and some of those resolute global brands that we all know that pop up everywhere! (naming no names!). We headed for the sleepy suburb and i was amazed, and this is going to sound silly, but just how DARK it was. They are clearly not as into street lights as we are. I dont know if it was that or just the fact that there was just a little bit less light pollution. But man, it was dark. The sun disappears so quickly in Australia. It was Autumn/winter time when i was there so the days were short and the sun was going down by 6. But when it went down it shot down past the horizon like a bullet from a gun. So funny to watch. Like the Truman movie when they change the day to night!

Waking up in the suburbs I got to have a little look round before i had an appointment with a school. It was a lovely sunny day, temperature of about 23 degrees. So i popped on some shortie jeans and flip flops and headed off to my first appointment. Leaving the house, theres that moment when you realise that your google maps are not going to work because you don’t have roaming! EEK. Thank goodness i thought to hire a SatNav from the car hire place. Very useful. I would have had to read a map if i hadn’t got them! *Gasp*

Driving to the area the school was in there was pretty heavy traffic. It wasnt rush hour but it seems that Sydney can be busy on the roads at any time of day! I drove to an area called Castle Hill where i was looking at a primary school. Driving into the area it has a distinct ‘neighbours’ feel to it. Large houses , large open and mostly quiet roads with soft palm trees blowing the mild autumn breeze. Its a lovely place. I found the school ..eventually.. and headed in to introduce myself. The Headteacher greeted me wearing an outfit i might wear on snowy day at home, wool tights, boots and a wool, long sleeve dress. I wondered maybe if she had really bad circulation but it turns out that sunny 23 degrees is considered cold. Okaaaay…i was all dressed for summer and we went into one classroom, i kid you not, where the heater was blasting out. Sauna springs to mind. ‘ah the kids must be feeling the cold today’ the principle explained to me with a smile.  Or trying to grow tomatoes i said with a chuckle. Tumbleweed moment;)

The school I visited was a Public primary school. There seems to be a three tiered system of schools in Australia. You have your typical private schools. Like private schools here. thousands of pounds a year per child and out of reach of most folk who work in the areas that the OH and myself do. Then there is Public or state schools, which are similar to to our own here. Then, in the middle,  there is a non-government schools, which seem to be fee paying but not anything like a private school fees, and these appear to be church schools. There is also a grammar type school thing for seniors as well. So generally similar. They have similar age ranges to our primary schools, although the start of their academic year is January (well week before February!). All ourr kids will go into the year that they are in, in the UK system. Except for our 4th, who has a birthday in January. The principle said that they give parents the choice of which year they would choose to send their children into school. As children have to be in school legally by the age of 6. It is a bit more flexible. So as our daughter is currently in reception here we could opt for her to re- start Kindy there rather than joining year 1 ( as she will be here). They only give this option to parents of kids born from Jan- Aug in an academic year. We would probably have chosen to put her in the same year she is in, in the UK anyway but as she is only just inside this time both I and the principle agreed that she should stay in her UK year group. Our youngest would start school in January 2016.

In Kindy (reception) they had five classes! I was pretty surprised at this as it seemed like a LOT.. but it turns out they do it like that so that the class sizes are small (max 20) in each class. So the kids can get more support as they start school. They then transition them into larger class sizes in the following years. Each year had three classes. It is funny how similar schools are really. The kids were at playtime when i was there (or recess) and it was just kids being kids. Playing footie, doing loom bands or mucking about in a random puddle of water.

Chatting with the principle, she was friendly, relaxed and seemed to think that kids settle quickly when they move. Somewhere like Australia i guess they are used to kids coming from different countries and i think as a country they are very inclusive on the whole.  I felt confident that the kids would love the school. Whether or not they go there would be very dependent on where we live as the school system is still based on a purely ‘geographical’ intake. So if you live in their catchment they give you a place. This makes for the lovely status quo of all the kids in the area going to school together and living near each other. More of a community feel. One thing i loved about heading out in the morning from Hayley and Rob’s house was that you could see the kids heading off to school, on their own, on their bikes (the roads are a lot quieter) and it had such a nice feeling about it.

School box checked. Next thing to do was visit work!!


June 27, 2014 - 3:24 pm

Notmyyearoff - Wow its really happening. Glad you got schools sorted so quickly! I keep telling my friend about you, she moved there last year from London and they settled in within about a month I think!
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July 2, 2014 - 7:48 pm

Anya Harris - *sigh* Am so jealous. I loved Sydney when I was there – changed my life in so many ways re natural medicine, the people, the attitude. I wanted to come home when I did, but now, would love to move there forever! Will be following your news very closesly indeed Sarah and am ridiculously pleased for you :)

July 7, 2014 - 12:07 am

Sara (@mumturnedmom) - Goodness, I knew I’d been a bit out of touch recently, all been a bit full on my end, but I’ve clearly missed something big!
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July 7, 2014 - 2:04 pm

Vicki Psarias-Broadbent - Wow amazing, always wanted to visit Australia, I even won the Geography cup on my project on Australia aged 9! Beautiful!

July 7, 2014 - 3:04 pm

Emma Iannarilli - Have never been to Australia, but it does look like such an amazing place. It sounds like you are about to embark on a brilliant new chapter.


July 8, 2014 - 1:36 pm

Coombemill - How amazing, I have never been, such a long way but great to have friends to visit there

July 13, 2014 - 11:02 pm

Jaime Oliver - wow what an epic adventure!! when is the big move?? x

thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments x
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July 14, 2014 - 12:17 am

Charly Dove - Oh Sarah it did make me smile reading this, so many memories of living in Sydney. Must have been so weird arriving and finding things to be so different – you’ll get used to these changes like you do everything though. Well done on sorting the schools, that’s a biggie! Hope everything is going alright, you’ll love it once you’re there. Thanks for sharing with #whatsthestory
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